CD reviews




Drowned in Sound DIS011

Sister to Rufus, daughter of Loudon III and Kate McGarrigle, and the artist whose previous EP boasted a title sufficiently profane to make even Eminem blush, Martha Wainwright’s debut album was always going to make headlines.

But this should be front page news simply because she writes memorable songs and makes them sound so thrilling, crisp and contemporary, with a performance style that is part modern folk diva, part classic French chanteuse. ‘GPT’ is playful cabaret compared with the aforementioned raw contempt and scorn of - well let’s stay with the acronyms and call it ‘BMFA’ - but both are delivered with equal panache.

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The album’s tour de force is ‘Don’t Forget’, an extremely good 21st century folk song that has both the familiarity of a forgotten classic and the excitement of the reckless and new. Wainwright’s vocal has a distinctive timbre but can veer off with equal conviction in any direction, be that carrying a substantial pop-rock tune like ‘When The Day Is Short’, or achieving gentle, measured and strangely seductive on ‘These Flowers’. ‘Factory’ manages to be even more impossibly romantic than the song of the same name by the blue collar rock god himself, Bruce Springsteen.

The bloodline cannot be denied; the traditional singer-songwriter influences are there for all to hear. If Wainwright sounds alien in the current musical soundscape, it may have something to do with having travelled on the good ship Talent, from the Planet Originality.


Rocket D.I.Y.

Fence Records FNC27P

King Creosote is Kenny Anderson, the main post in the Fence Collective, the assortment of musicians and DJs that has made the East Neuk of Fife an unlikely centre of artistic adventure. This record’s predecessor, Kenny and Beth’s Musakal Boat Rides, comprised a collection of songs several years in the writing. Rocket D.I.Y. benefits from being written over the past year and recorded in a matter of weeks.

"I was past 35 before my face made much sense," Anderson philosophises in ‘Saffy Nool’, but the music is falling sweetly into place as well, with upside down bass rhythms on ‘Klutz’ proving the King has more to him than country sea shanties.


Counting Down The Days

BMG 82876683712

Three years in gestation, this record tells us very little about Imbruglia that we did not already know. It wants to say she is a singer songwriter, teaming her with the likes of Gary Clark - formerly of Danny Wilson - and other composers for hire to persuade us of the case. Imbruglia acts out the part of the serious artist she so clearly yearns to be, but lacks the true character in her voice to make it a convincing portrayal.

The best thing here is ‘Come On Home’ - an affecting downbeat anthem written by Dan Glendining and first heard on his Black Car album. Sadly Imbruglia’s version does not even come close.




A Multitude of Stars

Arbors SOJCD 202,13.99

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The Statesmen of Jazz, who make their UK debut in Blackpool later this month (see preview right), are a working band drawing on a pool of musical talent. The band consequently exist in numerous incarnations, as the different line-ups on this double CD show.

Among the big names featured here are Clark Terry, Warren Vach, Ken Peplowski, Wycliffe Gordon and Joe Wilder. There’s something for everyone who loves lyrical, swinging jazz, but the stand-out set - largely because of its supremely laid-back feel - is the one that teams clarinet players Buddy De Franco and Kenny Davern.




An Darna Umhail. The Second Glance

Macmeanmna SKYECD34, 13.99

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Rousing Highland pipes, propelled by the bodhran of Martin O’ Neill, make a strong impression in this recording by Dochas - the former all women line-up - who play Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall tonight with the Michael McGoldrick Band.

Tight instrumental work on clarsach, keyboard, fiddle, accordion and pipes is augmented by powerful Gaelic singing led by whistle player Julie Fowlis.

The Ni Dhomnhaill siblings guest in a song from accordionist Kathleen Boyle’s Donegal family roots, there’s set of Glasgow Irish tunes, and fiddler Jenna Reid contributes a self-penned beauty from Shetland - adding to an uplifting album that celebrates Scotland’s young traditionalists.




Franois Couperin: Leons de Tnbres

Bis CD-1346, 12.99

Franois Couperin’s ‘Leons de Tnbres’ were written for performance during Holy Week, when it was the custom to hold early morning services in which candles were extinguished one by one as sung psalms were completed. Couperin’s first Leons were written for Good Friday and proved successful enough that some years later he wrote further Leons for the Wednesday and Thursday of Holy Week.

The Leons performed here are for Wednesday - the others having disappeared - and lament the destruction of Jerusalem in 586BC and foretell the suffering of Christ. Here sung by the counter-tenors Robin Blaze and Daniel Taylor, the third Leon, when both sing together, is particularly effective.


Edward Elgar: Marches

Naxos 8.557273, 4.99

Elgar’s marches are among the most popular and well-known of his compositions. In part, that is because they were written for large-scale public occasions - the ‘Coronation March’ for George V’s crowning in 1911, the ‘Empire March’ for the 1924 Empire Exhibition - or for theatrical performances. A full CD of Elgar’s marches, even when performed with skill and care such as here, can prove repetitious: despite the variety of themes he encompasses, a certain continuity of pace links individual marches. More variety is evident in his ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ marches because of their number and the fact it took five years to complete them.


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